Circulation of Knowledge in the Public Discourse – Between 'popularization' and 'populization'

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 23 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Karol FRANCZAK, University of Lodz, Poland
The main scientific objective of the paper is to investigate the practices of the circulation of knowledge in the public discourse. It discusses two models of circulation that can be labeled as ‘popularization’ and ‘populization’ of knowledge. The first one is identified with the traditional image of the activity of academic elites, which usually takes form of informing the broad public about scientific discoveries and translating the hermetic jargon of academic language so that it is accessible to a wider audience. The second model attempts to describe the process of losing the monopoly position of the dominant administrators of scientific knowledge. Observation of contemporary social practices leads to the conclusion that the number of areas and disciplines within which scientists can count on unconditional obedience is drastically shrinking. In many areas, their position is undermined by the skepticism of representatives of circles that do not have the institutional legitimation or are legitimized in a way that on the basis of scientific institutions is controversial (e.g. political activists, bloggers, artists, laymen).

Circulation of knowledge is considered as an important component of the modernization and anti-modernization discourse. Their components, as well as implicit and obvious ideological references are critically examined. This applies both to the overall transformation of the discourse, as well as the processes of its placement in the social reality, including the media. An especially valuable conceptual proposal for the description of ‘popularization’ and ‘populization’ is category of ‘de-distantiation’ (the reduction and weakening of distances in social relations) developed by Karl Mannheim. On the one hand, paper points to the importance of a pro-developmental model of bridging the gap between scientific and colloquial knowledge (‘modernization de-distantiation’), on the other hand, paper recognize the growth of intensive processes of knowledge production that develop contrary to the present modernization discourse (‘anti-modernization de-distantiation’).